How to create your personal development plan

Updated May 30, 2018

Creating a personal development plan is a great step towards reducing stress and becoming happier and more self-fulfilled. There are two elements that will distinguish your plan from a mere wish list: written goals and deadlines. After going through the steps, you will need at least a half hour, uninterrupted, to create your personal development plan. The more you invest in your plan today, the more the plan will work for you. Once written, review your plan every day.

Make a list of the areas in your life you would like to develop. Write down as many as you can. Then circle up to three that are the most important to you. Trying to work on too many different areas at the same time can be too overwhelming. These areas be anything you wish, but ideally they would reflect different aspects of your life. Areas to consider could include financial, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social development.

Determine your current state in each of those three areas. Future progress can only be measured when you know where you are starting from. Some things are easy to measure. Losing weight, for example, can be measured with a scale. Reducing or eliminating a smoking habit can be measured by the number of cigarettes smoked. Other areas of development, like becoming more trusting in a relationship, can be measured by using a simple 10-point scale.

Decide on your goals for each of the three areas. These do not have to be exceedingly difficult goals, but neither should they be too easy. Try to select goals that are measurable and will give you a feeling of accomplishment when you reach them.

Write down the reasons why these goals are important to you. Make your reasons descriptive and specific. Describe how you will feel about yourself and how your life will be different when accomplish them.

Write down the consequences of not following through with your goal. Write down how you will feel about yourself. Write down what your life will be like a year from now, if you do not work on developing yourself in each of these three areas. Write down what your life will be like in ten years if you did not work towards your goals now.

Give yourself deadlines to work towards these goals. Write down the dates and mark them in your calendar.

Write down three mini-goals to use as stepping stones toward your main goals in each of the three areas. Give these goals deadlines as well. Plan to celebrate these mini-goals. Examples include going one week without smoking as you make your way toward a smoke-free month or being able to jog five miles on your way toward running a marathon.

Begin putting your plan into action by doing one thing to begin accomplishing your goals. For example, call to get information on a course you want to take. If your plan is to get in shape, go for a brisk walk, or clean out the cupboards of junk food. Whatever it is, do one thing to immediately to make your written plan an active part of your life.

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About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.